In a recent interview with Robin Hall, Operation Manager for the Penn Program for Mindfulness, Robin shares how she became inspired to develop “Open Sitting” opportunities for People of Color*, a free, informal program she has implemented to cultivate a mindfulness community and develop mindfulness learning opportunities for racially and ethnically diverse audiences. In the interview, Robin shares how her mindfulness practice contributed to her simply noticing more. “I noticed the lack of diversity [in local mindfulness communities]. Instead of shutting down and ignoring it or being annoyed by it, I spent some time thinking about it and decided—there’s something I can do here.”
Robin shared an article by Tuere Sala that she says resonated with her. Sala, inspired by her own experiences and observations of the lack of diversity in the Seattle mindfulness, developed a 6-week mindfulness program for people of color in 2011 that is now offered twice a year. In this article posted by the Northwest Dharma Association, Sala describes her initial experience of entering into a mindfulness community in which she was culturally different than the majority. Sala writes: “This sense of being surrounded by strangers, when you most need to feel safe, is how it is for most African Americans or other people of color encountering Buddhist teachings in the West for the first time.” Sala’s program and others like it afford this audience a chance to practice in a space of ease, safety and support with other people of color as they explore mindfulness together.
The Penn Program for Mindfulness is now offering monthly open meditation sittings for People of Color, facilitated by Robin Hall. These are informal sessions of meditation and discussion and some experience with mindfulness meditation is recommended (but not required) as the program is not instructional.
It is our goal to make mindfulness as widely accessible to the People of Color audience as possible. To that end there are some limited financial assistance opportunities that are available to individuals wishing to learn more about mindfulness through more formal programs like our 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Management program.
*For the purposes of this program “People of Color” is defined as self-identification as a non-European, non-White person.
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